Why Can Teams Of Women Be So Difficult?

 By: Ken Warren
I should say from the start here that I am on very thin ice writing this article given I am male. I will save my criticism of men for another day. But I frequently hear managers, many of them women, complaining about the dynamics occurring within a largely female-based team. The problems that arise are often explained as not having enough males in the team to 'balance things out'. However, I think problems, when they arise, are due to women's strengths being misapplied.

Most women, at least when compared to men, tend to be quite sensitive to others and to have superior verbal and social skills. On one hand women's sensitivity, for example, is a great strength, helping them to read other people. But many women expect other women, to be sensitive enough to know how they are feeling and what they are needing, thus creating a pattern of not dealing directly with problems as they arise. When some women respond more emotively than what is required, this is often due to having made incorrect and overly negative assumptions about other people's behaviour.

When some women withdraw from those they are upset with or have minimal contact with them, this is still picked up on women colleague's sensitivity radar and negative assumptions are often also made. If they do speak directly to the team member involved, the negative assumptions they have made about that person's behaviour often means what they have to say comes out highly emotively which is seen by the other as disrespectful.

Women often use their verbal and social skills by confiding in supportive team members. However, when people become stuck in the negative or influence others to side with them, this is when team relationships are affected. If this pattern continues, things can take a downward spiral, worsening to a point where formal complaints are made, perhaps workplace harassment or bullying.

Team leaders are always better to act sooner rather than to wait until things are much worse. The cure, as I see it, is to balance out the team with men. I am joking here, but this is a valid option. Seriously, the solution is for team members to learn how to communicate better - double-checking how they are reading things, sometimes cutting each other some slack, speaking directly and respectfully with each other, when needed, to sort things out, and responding well when people have been inadvertently hurt.
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